Shure E3c Earphones | iLounge



How do they give the ety er6i's an A and these e3cs a B? They completely fail to mention the similar price tag for the etymotics, while high price is one of the major drawbacks to these??

I spent quite some time over at [url=][/url] talkin to the audiophiles. I was torn between what seemed to be identical earphones.. shure e3c and ety er6i.

They definitely did not see them as equal!!

durability: e3c > er6i
comfort: e3c > er6i
bass: e3c > er6i
less microphonic sounds:
e3c > er6i
overall sound: too subjective to say raspberry

Posted by mctriple in Champaign, IL on December 12, 2004 at 3:56 PM (PDT)


Just opened up these guys for Christmas. Here are my first impressions:

Sound Quality: I normally listen to music on either my Grado SR80's or Sony MDR900's. The E3c's compare favorably in the mids, but the highs seems to be lacking detail (especially when compared to the SR80's) and the low is definiately lacking (take this with a grain or salt as my Sony cans are known for having a strong and warm low end). Songs that I love to listen to because they have a real *punch* to them are much tamer on the E3c's. In any case if you're looking for big bass (or even if you listen to a lot of hiphop like I sometimes do) you're going to get screwed with earbuds if you spend under $400 no matter what. In general since they are earbuds I don't expect them to be perfect. They are certainly reasonable for the price but don't expect to put your normals cans down after you get these. One thing that may help is that I've only been listening for a few hours and most cans take some time to break in. Also when you get new cans it takes some time to psychologically adjust to how they handle sound =) The quality of the seal is quite important and in your first 15 minutes or so you will figure out how to get a good seal. You can sort of tell when you try to take the phones out and it's tough because they stay in there from the suction. Finally, microphonic noise (being able to hear yourself move/breathe) is pretty aweful when there is no music, but once you turn them on it's completely unnoticeable.

Comfort: The gray silicone sleeves are very comfortable. The clear sleeves are atrocious, and the foam sleeves are fine. Great selection in general =) I'm actually ordering the triple flange sleeves right now and I expect them to be the best ones. I wear glasses and was afraid of the whole over the ear thing, but it's not a problem at all. I really am starting to love the over the ear design of these buds, the wires are kept neat and they don't fall out at all.

Conclusion: So far I'm pretty pleased with these phones and am expecting the experience to get even better as I get better sleeves, the phones break in, I get use to the sound, etc. Worth the money, but definitely not the end all be all of headphones.

I've never listened to the Etymotic phones, but I'd love to try so I could compare. I'm assuming that the ER6i's come close and that the ER4P's blow the E3c out of the water.

Posted by nxmehta on December 25, 2004 at 11:37 PM (PDT)


I just opened up these phones for Christmas too and I have to say I am not pleased at all. I looked far and wide for reviews and info on the Shure E3c and most of them were positive. If you have them and like them, good for you. Otherwise, if you're considering getting a better pair of earphones than the default Apple ones, here are my 2 cents.
I mostly listen to metal but I don't think it's relevant. The Shures are uncomfortable, have no bass at all (even with a good seal) and make a huge hole in your bank account. The last post mentioned something about microphonic sound... Let's talk about microphonics: at one point, I could feel my heart beating through the music! You can hear yourself walking too which defies the point if you want to use them while commuting or jogging. In other words, if you want to use the E3cs, stay calm and don't move an inch!
Of course, the sound quality is great in the high- and mid-frequencies. Although I don't really see the 'depth of field' allusions I've seen here and there: you're pumping sound directly on your eardrum, how could there be any depth of field? Anyways... I have one good point to stress: sound isolation. It's probably the only thing the Shures do right. Even sitting in the back of the bus, right beside the engine, you hear only your music (and yourself breathing...) which is a good thing although it could become dangerous if you're not really careful.
Let me sum this up... I really didn't like these phones and can't see why they're so expensive. It's great for the layman to get access to semi-professional products but if the product sucks, someone should have the guts to say it. So today I went out and bought a pair of Sony MDR-EX71s. For $200 less than the Shure's you get a much better deal. Try them out before your go for the Shures, especially if you lack more bass and if you're on a budget like most of us.

Posted by bobsky on December 26, 2004 at 4:04 PM (PDT)


Just got my E3 phones for christmas and have been listening to them for about 8 hours total so far. I also let them play while I slept last night in case there really is something to phones needing a "break-in" period. Not sure I buy in to that theory, but it didn't hurt anything by doing so.

I listen to rock, blues, metal and a good deal of techno/electronic stuff. Everything is LAME --alt-preset standard encoded mp3 directly from CD or vinyl.

I tried the dark grey small sleeves first and while I was able to get a good seal, I felt they were a tad uncomfortable. The clear smalls were, obviously, more so, so I've been listening with the foams almost exlusively. They still cause a bit of irritation from the plasic tube that slips onto the nozzle rubbing the inside of my ear, but it's not bad. I'll be ordering the tripple flange sleeves to see if they're any more comfortable.

As for the reported anemic bass with these phones, I was admitedly worried about that. I'm not a bass junkie by any means - I've got a killer home system for rattling my dog's teeth out, but for the price I was hoping that this was an overblown/indivual issue. Personally I think they deliver more than adequate bass. Tracks like the Chilli Peppers' "If You Have To Ask" (Flea!) are tight and punch as are all of my juicy Primus tracks. The Crystal Method's track "Starting Over ", one of the more base-heavy tracks on their Legion of Boom CD sounds bombastic. smile

All in all I'm happy with the 125$ I laid out for these phones. They deliver clean sound, decent frequency separation, are more than efficient enough for my ipod and stay put when run properly. My wife's birthday is in January so I might get her a set of ER6i phones to see how they compare.


Posted by slicky in Dallas, TX on December 26, 2004 at 8:02 PM (PDT)


I've been using the E3C's for about 40 listening hours.

I disagree with 50% of the review- the sound isolation with the default sleeves is excellent with moderate-volume music playing. I've watched people yelling, dogs barking, buses driving by- and never heard ANYTHING but the music. Ever. Maybe the reviewers ear canal wasn't well suited to that particular sleeve?

Sound quality part 1- CAN be simply amazing and unbelieveably clear and crisp. The sound fills every millimeter between your ears as if your head suddenly became a small empty concert hall- you can't even tell where the sound is coming from.

Sound quality part 2 - With the pre-packaged iPod phones you can generally tell when you have a crappy encode vs. a really good one- but it's not that noticibile nor distracting. With the E3C's, the clarity is so much better you can easily tell the difference between great, OK and substandard encoded music. The limited frequency response, stereo seperation and compression artificats in poorly encoded tracks are appearenty enough to be somewhat distracting- and very much lacking in bass (which is where I believe the negative impressions are coming from). On the other hand, well encoded MP3's with no frequency adjustment at all sound extremely good- PLENTY tight base, psychotic levels of stereo seperation and light, airy high end.

One note, as mentioned in other reviews- shove them in DEEP- they really like a tight fit (which is not uncomfortible at all).

The only negative I have is that the cord is sensititive to vibrations of any kind. Thump the cord and you'll hear it, even with the music going.

I did back-to-back against a pair of US$400 audiphile/studio quality over-ear Sennhieser HD600's- The HD600's are quite a bit better than the E3c IMHO, but the difference isn't nearly as striking between the two as it is between the E3c 's and the stock iPod phones smile

Posted by Jephryb in Surf City USA on December 30, 2004 at 11:49 AM (PDT)


Thanks for all the information and opinions on the Shures. After using in-ear phones, I would recommend people trying out portable amplifiers with the phones. I flew across country for Christmas, and the portable amplifier really enhanced the sound of the iPod when I used my in-ear phones. The amp doesn't really have any affect with standard phones like the ones that Apple provides with the iPod, but really helped with the in-ear phones

Posted by Faithful on January 2, 2005 at 11:25 PM (PDT)


So I've had these headphones for around two weeks now and I love them. They are, like the review states, incredably clear and true. Being the second pair of SHURE headphones I've owned(E2c's previously), I found them to be aquard to fit at first. When I got used to them however, they provided incredable sound isolation. Even with no music playing, they do a great job. Now as price goes I believe that you get what you pay for. The SHURE's deliver in every aspect.(sound and comfort) The fit will take some time to perfect, but with the right sleeves attached (I perfer the soft grey flex sleeves) you'll find that you will get the most out of them. They are so light you often forget that you are wearing them. The only downside to these phones that I can find is that you can't lay down with them in. This was a let down for me since I like to fall asleep to music. Overall these phones get an A. When it comes to personal audio, you definetly get what you pay for. Better than the E2c's I had origionally.

Posted by intern_mike in Orlando on January 10, 2005 at 5:44 PM (PDT)


I *love* these headphones. I have already tried the vanilla Apple buds, a few pairs of broader spectrum earbuds I already had, as well as Sony's MDA-ED21LP's, which were my long time favorite.

There is no going back once you've used noise-cancelling earbuds. I can turn the iPod WAY down and still get full spectrum (and hear absolutely nothing but what I want to hear.)

BTW, the tip which appears in other places on this board ---- to use the 'triple flange' sleeves but cut off the smallest tip was PRICELESS.


Posted by Harold in Philadelphia, PA on January 19, 2005 at 6:37 AM (PDT)


just received my e3cs and love them very much the foams are the best i belive. the sound is far better than my mdr81sls

Posted by xxfatalxx in usa on January 20, 2005 at 3:22 PM (PDT)


A lot of people have written here and elsewhere about the difficulty of getting a good fit and the lack of bass. The fit does take some experimentation - I couldn't get it to work despite trying all the various sleeves. Fortunately, this model is designed to be worn two ways... the recommended way is with the wire over the ear, which I had trouble with. But they can also be turned upside down and used with the wire hanging like a normal ear bud and I got them straight in this way. Then, suddenly, I found the knack to inserting them the 'proper' way and now have no problems at all.
Either way, the sound is amazing. Bass improves significantly with proper fit as has been mentioned elsewhere.

What I haven't seen often is the fact that these are a bit 'bright' sounding to start with, but when they have been used a while and have loosened up the sound improves greatly. I ran mine overnight a couple of times on a medium volume and it made a great difference, bass improved and the middle softened.

So, the message is, try them, persevere with them, and you will be well rewarded. These are the best phones I ever owned.

Posted by SteveH on January 26, 2005 at 2:57 PM (PDT)


Everyone should note that these headphones are actually considerably better then the iPod, and will bring out the limitations of that unit.

Just got the e3c's after much comparison between and the Ety er-6i's. Had no problem getting a good fit, but, as everyone else seems to have pointed out, getting a proper seal is critical to the overall listening experience.

Once putting them on and spinning up my 4g 40gb player, I was presented with some unpleasant hissing. At first, I blamed the headphones, but after a bit of comparison between them and my old headphones, I began to notice that the iPod has some minor background hiss which is mostly apparent when the hard drive is spinning. There also seems to be a bit of feedback in the headphone jack too. The old headphones also pick it up, but as their response is generally poor, it's not as evident.

Another reason is that the headphone jack on the standard iPod headphones is surrounded by plastic where it contacts the surface of the iPod, whereas the Shure has gold-plated contact points. I don't consider this a design flaw of the Shures, but rather an unfortunate coincedance that the Shure's gold plating contacts the metal surface of the iPod.

I'm going to try using a bit of nail polish to isolate the headphones from the metal surrounding the jack to eliminate that feedback, but there is simply no way to remove the hard drive spinning noise. It seems that the isolation circuitry of the iPod is, well, about what you'd expect for a device at this price point.

So, the moral of the story is, the Shure e3c's are excellent headphones, in fact better than the quality of the iPod can really handle. They'll make the limitations of the iPod a bit more apparent.

Does that mean you shouldn't purchase them? Not sure. I guess that the iPod is probably better suited for a medium fidelity set of headphones like the Sony's that are less likely to highlight the limitations of the hardware.

Posted by SpaceManSpiff in US on February 11, 2005 at 5:50 AM (PDT)


I just got the E3C's yesterday and am having trouble getting used to putting the cable over my ear. Is this something that everyone else has gotten used to?

Posted by Izzy Here on March 17, 2005 at 10:45 AM (PDT)


I ordered these from eCost about a week and a half ago prior to taking a trip outside the US; listened mostly to music on the way - with the foam inserts (I haven't really fiddled with the others yet), music was crisp and bassy. Though certainly not as boomy as my last pair of Sonys, the clarity was certainly there.

Bond (classical/electronica) sounded much much better than on the iPod 'phones, and the gamut of music I normally listen to did sound quite a bit clearer. I did notice that they do get better the more I listen, too. Plus, the iPod ones really hurt my ears after a while - these certainly do not.

On the trip back late last week, I watched "The Incredibles" on the in-flight movie. Holy crap, it was just plain amazing hearing the difference between the E3Cs, the airliner brand, and the iPod ones. Expensive, sure, but worth it? Absolutely; and the cord does seem to be of better quality.

These actually make me want to get more classical-style music to experience what I hadn't heard before. It is true, however, that you'll soon see why the higher bit rates are preferable.

Posted by infy on March 21, 2005 at 4:59 PM (PDT)


I bought these because I saw them for $89.50 at Dell and I knew that was a great price. Unfortunately, I didn't read this review first.

I primarily listen to hip hop and rap, so deep bass is important to me. It sounds like these headphones may not be for me.

I have also have Grado SR-80s. Can someone compare the E3c to the Grados? Thanks.

Posted by maveric in Los Angeles on March 28, 2005 at 10:24 PM (PDT)


Are you certain you bought the E3C's for $89? The pricepoint sounds more like the E2C's...

Posted by Izzy Here on March 30, 2005 at 3:02 AM (PDT)


Yeah, I bought the E3c for $89.50 at Dell. I'm looking at the package now.

The E2c was $49.50. Do you think the $40 difference is worth it?

Anyway, I really would like some comparisons of the E3c to the Grado SR-80. I may need to return the E3c if they can't handle my bass needs.

Posted by maveric in Los Angeles on March 30, 2005 at 6:57 AM (PDT)


Wow! Great price on the E3C's! Personally I couldn't tell you if they're worth the $40 additional but I can tell you that I love my E3C's! Good luck with them!

Posted by Izzy Here on April 3, 2005 at 3:56 PM (PDT)


I purchased a pair of Shure E3 earphones a few weeks ago and they are INCREDIBLE! Listening to "Smoothie Song" by Nickel Creek, I found that it sounds as if the band is sitting right in front of you, unplugged. Also, last night I was listening to Lucia Micarelli's "My Funny Valentine." I could not only hear her breathe at the end of each phrase (she's a violinist), but I could hear the piano's sustain pedal being actuated! It was definitely incredible to say the least. The detail and accuracy the E3s provide is simply amazing! Hearing songs that I've heard dozens of times is TRUELY like hearing them for the first time! Believe what they say. Wonderful! The E3s provide plenty of bass, accurately. The bass might not be similar to the bass that some people prefer: the kind that rattles their trunk open, but it is good, VERY clean, accurate bass: the amount of bass that the producers meant for you to hear. The E3 earphones far exceeded my expectations.

Another reason that they are awesome is that, when listening to music, outside noise is nonexistant. It's like watching a movie when the voice soundtrack is cut and all you hear is music. You see lips moving, but all you hear is sounds like there's a band in front of you, but all you see is your friends talking. :-D I have found these to be extremely useful while vaccuuming or mowing the lawn, you can hear the music loud and clear, with no distortion at only about 1/2 iPod volume and barely hear the mower in the background.

Also, after a few weeks of wearing them, they are so comfortable that I can hardly tell that I'm wearing them. They're a bit odd at first, but they are VERY easy to get used to.

I would DEFINITELY reccomend these to anyone who wants extremely accurate sound-isolating earphones. Also, I would reccomend these over any active noise cancellation devices for their pure simplicity, portability, and the fact that these sound incredible and have no way of coloring the sound with any active device.

If I had it to do all over again, I would still, most definitely, purchase these earphones!

10/10 for sure.

Also, has the E3 (gray version) for a very good price.

Posted by CrRider075 on April 9, 2005 at 1:54 PM (PDT)


After living with the E3c's and a pair of Sony MDR-EX81LP's now for a couple of weeks I've come to the conclusion that I like both for different reasons. The Sonys sound the most immediately impressive due to their overblown bass and treble. But their midrange is a bit dissapointing and sounds very tinny. Consequently, the Sonys stretch further in the highs and lows but suffer from a slightly woolly, unfocussed sound as a result. Best iPod EQ setting seems to be Vocal Booster with them. In comparison, the E3c's are a lot more faithful to the original recording. Mid range is much more balanced and prominent, and though bass and treble aren't as forceful as the Sonys, I found the E3c's to pack much more of a punch. They are certainly louder at the same volume level than the Sonys. Classical music in particular sounds far superior on the Shures. Also, they seem to isolate much better than the Sonys, but that could be purely down to my ears having a tighter fit with the Shures. I used both sets just yesterday on a flight and the Shures blocked out much more in-flight noise than the Sonys. So I find you tend to be in your own private world more when listening with the Shures. Best EQ setting for the Shures seems to be Jazz. The Classical setting sounds even better but this setting is more prone to bass distortion on an iPod.

Posted by sjminem in Leicester, UK on April 18, 2005 at 8:24 AM (PDT)


Regarding the comments on the importance of getting a good, comfortable fit, I'd like to add this advice: "never say never." When I got these earphones, I immediately assumed that the gray sleeves (or foams) would be the most comfortable, based on the "hard" look of the clear sleeves and comments I had read about them. However, I soon found out that these were, in fact, the most comfortable for me. I tried them after the gray sleeves started irritating my ears a bit (after a couple of hours), and I was surprised at how smooth they actually are. I can hardly feel them, and the seal is the best for my ears so I get wonderful warm sound. I consider myself to have fairly tender ears (I also have the Ety 6i phones, and the flanges really irritate my ears), so I hope this helps those who find the look of the clear sleeves intimidating.

As others have mentioned, everyone will be different in terms of comfort; there is no one perfect solution for everybody. But if you're not feeling comfortable, give all the other options in the fit kit a try, no matter how unpleasant they look; you might be surprised.

Posted by lucienne on May 14, 2005 at 4:07 AM (PDT)

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